Strange Cinema: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

This is part of an ongoing review series for the films featured on 366weirdmovies.com‘s Certifiably Weird list. My goal is to watch and review all of them (even if it kills me). These reviews may contain spoilers.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Director: Jim Sharman
Starring: Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, & Meat Loaf

What’s it about?
Brad and Janet get stuck with a flat tire and wind up at Dr. Frank N. Furter’s creepy castle, where they meet the doctor’s creation (Rocky) and experience a kind of sexual awakening.

Is it any good?
Widely considered to be the prolific midnight movie of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is synonymous with cult films. Even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve at least heard of it. And if you haven’t seen it, you’re definitely missing out.

The problem with reviewing this film is that I’m 100% biased in favor of it. I watched it religiously in middle school and even participated in a theater troupe’s performance of it in college (shout out to the Lost Flamingo Company!). I consider this to be a coming of age experience rather than just a spoof of old horror B movies.

So in order to give this movie a (mostly) objective review, I have to separate it from its cult following. But we’ll add that factor back in at the end to see if it really holds up.

Rocky Horror isn’t meant to be taken seriously. You’ll laugh at the awkward set pieces and the lackluster acting (even from a veteran like Susan Sarandon). This film satirizes B movies like The Bride of FrankensteinForbidden Planet, and Doctor X. The spirit of those early sci-fi films is perfectly captured, but Rocky Horror adds an extra element to the mix: unrestrained sexuality.

One of the most common messages of Rocky Horror is simply to “give yourself over to absolute pleasure.” Everyone has sex in this film–men and women, men and men, women and women, creation and creator, brother and sister (elbow sex counts!). And despite being a little over-the-top, this movie is surprisingly inclusive of all sexual expressions. It celebrates sexuality (something that was not unusual in a lot of other films in the ’70s), and doesn’t restrict it to heterosexuality. It’s not pornographic by any means, but you definitely get the hints.

The film itself is good for a few laughs and has an incredibly catchy soundtrack, but if you’re just watching it by yourself in your living room, it’s not the most entertaining movie.

BUT, if you add the enormous cult following and the audience participation, Rocky Horror is one of the best experiences you’ll ever have. If you ever get the chance to see a live performance of this or you get a chance to participate in it yourself, do it. You’ll have a new appreciation for this film and you might even have your own sexual awakening. Admit it, Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter is oddly attractive. I can say from firsthand experience that performing with a bunch of other Rocky Horror fans in nothing but lingerie and high heels is something you’ll always remember and cherish.

Grade: B- (without audience participation), A (with audience participation)
Weirdness Score: 8.5/10 (or, weird enough to make you question your own sexuality) 

[Read the more in-depth 366 Weird Movies review here.]

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